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Centers of Excellence

Fuels and Materials Research Laboratory

Fuels and Materials Research Laboratory
The Fuels and Materials Research Laboratory (FMRL) works with project scientists and engineers at the EERC to analyze coal, determine the physical properties of coal ash and other ceramic materials, and test the utility of coal ash as a valuable by-product of coal utilization. The FMRL houses three laboratories: the High-Temperature Research Laboratory (HTRL), the Coal By-Products Utilization Laboratory (CBUL), and the Coal Analysis Laboratory (CAL).

High-Temperature Research Laboratory

The HTRL focuses on evaluating the temperature-dependent physical properties of ash and other ceramic materials, including viscosity, thermal stability, strength, and corrosivity. Several furnace systems are available for testing with any atmosphere up to temperatures of 1700°C.

  • Viscosity measurements of ash slags in oxidizing or reducing environments in the range of 10–3000 poise
  • Slag viscosity measured with a rotating-bob viscometer as the temperature drops from 1500°C to freezing temperature (accuracy is ±5%)
  • Sintering propensity of powdered materials in corrosive environments

Coal By-Products Utilization Laboratory

The CBUL has provided physical testing and research on concrete, fly ash, and engineering materials for more than 20 years. Research and development work on coal by-products have resulted in significant technological advancement in several applications, including mineral wool, cement replacement, high-flexural-strength ceramics, sulfur concrete, high-heat-capacity brick, soil and road subbase stabilization, controlled low-strength materials, and ash liner materials. The CBUL is fully equipped to evaluate almost all civil engineering materials testing parameters, which are the cornerstone of testing procedures to evaluate the utilization of coal by-products.

  • ASTM International C618: Fly ash and raw calcined natural pozzolan for use as a mineral admixture in portland cement concrete
    • Available chemical testing:
      • SiO2, Al2O3, Fe2O3
      • MgO, CaO
      • SO3
    • Moisture loss
    • Loss on ignition
    • Available alkalies as Na2O
    • Available physical testing
    • Amount retained on No. 325 sieve
    • Pozzolanic activity index with portland cement
    • Autoclave expansion or contraction
    • Specific gravity
  • ASTM C204: Fineness by air permeability
  • ASTM C593: Fly ash and other pozzolans for use with lime
    • Compressive strength
    • Vacuum saturation test
  • ASTM C114: Chemical analysis of hydraulic cement
  • ASTM C469: Static modulus of elasticity of concrete in compression, 6 x 12-in. cylinders
  • Bituminous (asphalt concrete) testing
    • Marshall hot-mix design by ASTM D1559
    • Extraction, rice voids analysis by ASTM D2172
  • Extrusion and firing of high-flexural-strength ceramic specimens containing fly ash–sand/glass–clay mixtures
  • Mixing, compaction, curing, compression testing, and freeze–thaw testing of American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) T99 and T180 stabilization cylinders
  • Sampling and testing of normal and lightweight concrete aggregate, including sieve analyses, specific gravity, and soundness
  • Other available physical tests
    • ASTM C441 and C227: Reactivity with cement alkalies
    • ASTM C1012: Length change of hydraulic cement mortars exposed to a sodium sulfate solution
    • ASTM C185: Air content of hydraulic cement mortar
  • Long-term resistance of concrete to sulfate exposure
  • Permeability testing
    • Concrete cylinders (6 x 12 in.)
    • Soil and other materials
    • ASTM D2343: Membrane-type permeameter (triaxial apparatus)
    • Bureau of Reclamation: Falling and constant head methods
  • Laboratory batching and testing of portland cement concrete by ASTM C192

Coal Analysis Laboratory

The CAL is an integrated and fully equipped laboratory set up primarily for proximate and ultimate analyses of coal, providing research support for many EERC research programs. In addition to performing proximate and ultimate analyses, the CAL provides a wide variety of testing, including helium air pycnometry, surface area determination, Coulter counter particle sizing, laser particle sizing, dry and wet sieve analysis, ash fusion, and low-temperature ashing. The CAL analyzes coal samples from various state universities and other institutions to determine the quality of the coal used in their boiler systems.

The CAL performs analyses according to ASTM standards on the following materials:

  • Petroleum products, lubricants, and fossil fuels
  • Gaseous fuels, coal, and coke
  • Soil, rock, and building stones
  • Wood

The CAL houses instrumentation and equipment designed for the analysis and testing of coal and coal by-products and is qualified to perform numerous functions, such as elemental analysis (CHNOS) and physical characterization of fine particulates:

  • Leco TGA-701 analyzer – Thermogravimetric analysis includes moisture, volatile matter, and ash analysis. The volatile matter value is used to determine the coal rank.
  • Leco TruSpec with sulfur add-on – Carbon and hydrogen values are used to determine the amount of oxygen required in combustion processes and calculations of efficiency of combustion processes. Nitrogen values can be used to evaluate the potential formation of nitrogen oxides as a source of atmospheric pollution.
  • Sulfur analyzer – Sulfur analysis determines the percentage of total sulfur of the major elements in coal ash.
  • Leco AC-350 isoperibol calorimeter – Heating value is used to classify coal samples. It is also used to evaluate the effectiveness of beneficiation processes for research.
  • Micromeritics FlowSorb surface area analyzer – The surface area of granulated and powdered solids or porous materials is measured by determining the quantity of gas that adsorbs as a single layer of molecules on the sample.
  • Micromeritics helium air pycnometer – The multivolume pycnometer determines the skeletal density by measuring the reduction of gas volume in the sample chamber caused by the presence of the research sample.
  • Malvern 2600 particle-size analyzer – The sample is illuminated by the light from a low-power visible wavelength laser. The particles scatter some of the light at angles characteristic of their size, forming a series of diffraction patterns that are focused onto the detector and interfaced with the computer (size range is 0.5 to 564 µm).
  • Fusibility of coal and coke ash furnace – Ash fusibility temperatures predict whether the ash will perform properly in the process for which the coal was chosen.
  • Facilities for sieving, grinding, and sample preparation – The lab has a variety of coal and research sample preparation equipment. Physical tests are also performed, including wet sieve analysis, dry sieve analysis, and bulk density.